Dubai Clerics Issue Fatwa Against Using Others’ WiFi Without Consent

Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP
Tom Pennington/Getty Images/AFP

Scholars at the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities in Dubai have issued a fatwa, or religious edict, declaring that using a neighbor’s WiFi connection without consent is not “proper Islamic conduct.”

As the Khaleej Times reports, the clerics specified that stealing WiFi is equivalent to theft or fraud, even if the proper owner of the wireless network does not notice the intrusion.

“Whether the WiFi service owner is affected or not, it is haram or prohibited to avail the service without his or her consent,” declared chief mufti Dr. Ali Mashael, who went on to specify that if stealing WiFi causes the performance of the network to degrade, the thief has “another sin or error” on his account.

While it is true that the Koran does not specifically cover the nuances of wireless networking, Islamic research Dr. Shaikh Mohammed Ashmawy said WiFi mooching was covered under broad injunctions against harming others.

“Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him) was reported as saying that: ‘There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm’, and hence people should not be involved in such WiFi theft,” Ashmawy explained.

The fatwa made it clear that voluntary WiFi sharing is not offensive, only the use of a network without permission from its rightful owner.

A legal adviser in the United Arab Emirates told The National that using unsecured accounts carries no “legal accountability,” by which he seems to envision free WiFi accounts offered by restaurants and shopping malls. Islamic scholars might have to debate the matter further if an individual with an open, no-password router discovers other people have been using it without asking, and takes exception to their use of the wireless network.

The UAE legal adviser quoted by The National said the typical punishment for hacking into a WiFi network is a fine of about Dh1,000, or around $275 in U.S. dollars.


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